This is a commonly asked question:

Is it possible to lose 30 pounds of fat in 30 days without exercise?

I’ll begin with a brief and unhelpful answer, followed up with a longer, very helpful explanation, if I may? Briefly: yes… and no. I know- unhelpful. But bear with me.

Yes, it is possible to lose 30 pounds in 30 days without exercise. However, much of that will be lost muscle mass, rather than being 100% fat, so the actual fat loss will be significantly less than what the scales tell you. It is however possible to lose 30 pounds of body fat in 30 days, but only if you recognise that some muscle will be lose, and only if you are obese and lacking muscle tone- think at least BMI 30.

Standard practice for weight loss generally recognises a somewhat more modest figure of 1-3 pounds of fat loss per week, rather than the pound per day we are looking at right now. This is sustainable in the long run, and ultimately what you will want to be doing after any initial higher weight loss.

Losing 1 pound of bodyweight- let alone body fat- per day is high taxing on your body. It requires you to commit to an extreme and unhealthily low calorie diet, especially if you are looking to do it without the aid of exercise. To keep yourself healthy- to maintain muscle  mass and bone density, as well as healthy regulation of hormones- you need a minimum daily caloric intake, which this type of weight loss diet will fall short of.

So, it is unhealthy and hard to do, but is it possible? And should you do it?

Losing 30 Pounds in 30 Days

It is possible. And it is recommended, but only if the alternative to losing weight so drastically is worse than the effects of the diet itself. If your doctor has told you that you’re dangerously obese and need to lose it quickly, or if you need to bring your BMI down to a certain point for medical reasons (you may need to for surgery to be safely performed, for example), then it can and should be done.

Otherwise, it may likely be a good idea to look at more modest goals, such as the aforementioned 1-3 pounds per week. Always remember to consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before drastically altering your diet.

How To Do It

As Max Wishnofsky concluded in 1958, one pound of body fat gained or lost is approximately equal to a raise or drop of 3,500 calories respectively. Fat such as the adipose in your body that you are wanting to lose contains about 9 calories per gram. A full pound of pure body fat equals 4,100 calories.

The more fat you have, the higher your daily caloric need for maintenance, and the higher your caloric need at deficit. Basically, if you are obese, you can hit the kind of daily caloric deficit needed to hit 1 pound per day of weight loss.

Your fat burning ratio – your metabolic rate – depends on numerous factors. Arguably the most important of these is the amount of fatty tissue, muscle mass and water in your body. An over obese person will lose more weight more quickly than a leaner person on the same intake.

Remember, always, however, that the faster you lose weight through a low calorie diet, the more weight you will likely lose in terms of muscle mass. The close you get to your ideal body weight, the more your body holds onto fatty tissue, opting to enter a catabolic  state instead- it will metabolise your own muscle rather than depleting its reserves of fat. This will reduce your basal metabolic rate (BMR) in the long run.

The Math: If You are Over Obese

For over obese people it is possible to lose 1 pound per day by following an extremely low calorie diet. Regular workouts will help this, though they are not necessary, and dietary supplements are always recommended as you will be unlikely to take in the full complement of necessary vitamins and minerals through such a restricted eating plan.

So, warnings aside, let’s say that you have decided that your healthiest option is to lose 1 pound per day, at least on average. Tell yourself this: set it as your goal.

You will need to restrict your diet to allow for a daily deficit of 3500 calories.

Here is how we work out what you need. Let’s use a made up example. I’ll call him John. John is 28 years old, 5 foot 10 and 450 hundred pounds, giving him a BMI above 40. He is class 3 morbidly obese and is at severe risk of various weight related diseases: he needs to lose weight very quickly.

Using a BMR calculator, we can work out that John needs 3621 calories per day to maintain his current weight when he is completely sedentary. Of course, he won’t be able to reach a deficit of 3500 calories (this would leave 121 calories which is too low.)

However, were he to go on a light walk every couple of days- not exercising in the gym, just allowing for regular daily movement- this metabolic rate jumps up: he now needs something in the region of 4200 calories per day. Taking out the 3500 calories we need to lose that pound leaves us with 700 calories. This is unsustainably low, but will serve well for the 30 days we need. John can eat less than 700 calories per day for a month and expect to lose 30 pounds.

Please note that John is an extreme case: he is severely morbidly obese.

Four simple rules to lose 30 pounds in 30 days

OK, so let’s say for the sake of argument that you are like John. You are over BMI 40 and can cut out 3500 calories per day whilst leaving room for around 5-800 calories to eat.  You decide to attempt to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, without any exercise. How do you go about structuring your life and diet to get the results you want?

1. Get a set of scales

Positive feedback will be one of your best friends when you’re losing weight. You will need a way of measuring your progress and of keeping track of any setbacks you may face. This way, you will be able to tell when it is working, or when it isn’t and some minor adjustments are necessary to keep you on track.

Scales will allow you to do this, putting your weight loss into a quantifiable format. This should prove a great motivator: you will be able to see your goals being achieved in real time.

Weigh yourself at the same time of day, every couple of days. This should limit other variables such as water retention and hydration, how much food you have in your stomach and so forth. I recommend weighing in the morning, before breakfast. You will weigh the least at this time of day and variables and inconsistencies will be appropriately minimal.

Keep track of the numbers so that you can see how your weight loss journey is progressing.

2. Eat real foods…

If you’re wondering what I mean by ‘real food’, this is probably a big part of the reason why you are carrying so much weight. You’re taking in lots and lots calories from useless, unhealthy sources which are easy to consume in large quantities, whereas for this kind of diet we need to maximise the amount of micronutrition you get from your food whilst minimising caloric intake. To make sure you’re getting real food- nutritious, natural, healthy food- eat the following:

  • moderate amounts of protein
  • lots of vegetables
  • some healthy natural fats

3. …and avoid white carbohydrates

The antithesis to real food is white carbs. If you’re obese, a big part of the reason is that you are probably taking in too many carbs- especially too many simple carbs. Your body doesn’t need to, and so won’t, turn to fat burning for energy when it has carbs in such abundance. The greatest transgressors in this regard are white carbs, as they tend to be the simplest and most nutritionally empty, giving you nothing else but carb.

The following foods should not feature in your diet during this 30 day period:

  • bread
  • rice
  • cereal
  • potatoes
  • pasta

If you avoid eating anything white like the list above, you should be going in the right direction.

4. Keep it simple

Whatever your goal- fat loss, muscle gain, energy maximisation, or anything else- you will see the greatest success if you choose a handful of healthy foods and recipes and stick to them. It will keep things simple for you to prepare and will ensure that you take in what you need- and no more.

Utilise the following, mixing and matching permutations of them where you want:

Proteins:

  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breast or thigh
  • Grass-fed organic beef
  • Tofu

Legumes:

  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Butter beans

Vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas
  • Anything green and leafy

Eat as much as you like of the above food items. Just remember: keep it simple. Pick three or four meals and repeat them.

5: Only eat your calories

This is as opposed to drinking them. If you knew what kind of calorie content went into your full fat mocha with all the trimmings or even just a half pint of lager, you would quickly realise how your daily calorie intake is so high.

I recommend sticking to water, black coffee and tea- especially green tea, as it has mild fat burning properties- with nothing else added: no sugar, no milk, nothing. Drink as much as you can.

Avoid: fruit juice, soda, milk, alcohol… anything that isn’t water, tea or black coffee.

6: Stick to a six day cycle, resting on the seventh

Take one day off per week and eat a relatively large amount, taking it up to something like your current, usual caloric intake. Save your sweets and treats for this day, so feel free to eat junk food and desserts.

Contrary to what you might think, this will help you to lose weight. There are two reasons for this. The first is simple: it will keep you motivated. You can go six days on veggies and water if you know you can have ice cream and chocolate and pizza on the seventh day.

The second reason is that binges like these will stop your metabolic rate- including your thyroid function- from normalising at a caloric restriction. This should allow your body to burn energy at the usual rate whilst withholding many of this energy, meaning it will be taken from body fat.

7. Sleep

Always get a proper night’s sleep- anything from 6-8 hours. Your body burns fat while you sleep, and sleep also allows your mind and body to rejuvenate. It is also fundamental in keeping your hormone function well regulated- hormonal issues are one of the main side effects of such an extreme diet as this, and so minimising risk of imbalances in this regard is very important.

If you follow these simple, seven steps, and keep your calories both ultra low and from healthy sources, you should be able to lose a substantial amount of weight in 30 days. Remember to consult a qualified medical practitioner before and during such a stringent regime as this and keep a good record of everything your body goes through.

Your 30 day schedule

So, we know how to structure your daily and weekly eating plans, but what will the whole lot look like altogether? What is the schedule you should keep to and expect to see?

Many sources will tell you to eat 6-8 small meals daily in order to break up caloric load, maintain steady energy and blood sugar levels and thus aid in avoiding fat gain/ boosting fat loss. This works: I have done it myself to great effect.

It’s also a lot of work and quite tiresome. If you want to do it, go ahead- you will see good results. If not, eating 4 slightly larger meals per day will also work well. Try to portion each out to between 150-200 calories, making sure that you stay within that 800 calorie limit.

A typical day can look like this:

  • 9am : breakfast
  • 1pm : lunch
  • 4pm :  smaller mid afternoon meal
  • 6pm : dinner
  • 11pm :  a small snack and a final drink before bed

Remember to drink consistently throughout the day.

Do this, or something similar, like clockwork. Repeat it six days per week, with the seventh off as mentioned above, for the full 30 days.

So, for example, it will look like this:

  • Monday: 800 calories
  • Tuesday: 700 calories
  • Wednesday: 750 calories
  • Thursday: 3,500 calories
  • Friday: 700 calories
  • Saturday: 800 calories
  • Sunday: 750 calories

Other than Thursday – which I have arbitrarily chosen as my ‘cheat’ day- I have kept at or below the 800 calorie mark every day, broken up into four or five small meals. Repeat this for a full month.

If you are indeed aiming at 30 pounds in 30 days, you will possibly the most losses at the beginning of the month. For example, you might see 12 pounds lost in the first week, then two weeks of 6-8 pounds, followed by a final week or so of only 4 pounds. This is fairly standard when losing weight- even with more reasonable, longer term goals- as your body adjusts to new levels of caloric efficiency and also loses weight.

Losing weight means that whilst a loss of 2%  for a 300 pound person at the beginning of their weight loss journey means losing 6 pounds in a week, by the time they are down to 200 pounds that 2% would translate to only 4 pounds. Even though they have gone from losing 6 pounds per week to losing 4 pound, they’re still losing 2% bodyweight per week. You should expect to see this kind of effect if all other things are equal.

Honest approaches to long term weight loss

This diet is not a cure all, nor is it safe. I wouldn’t advise it for most people unless, as I stated earlier, the risks of remaining at your current weight outweigh the risks of such an extreme weight loss.

Even then it should only be undertaken in conjunction with a qualified medical practitioner’s advice and blessing.

The kinds of losses you will make with this diet will also not last forever. STOP THIS DIET after 30 days, whether or not you’ve made the progress you wanted. It will not be safe long term.

Instead, think about making some more realistic, more beneficial long term changes. There are many diets and supplements out there that promise weight loss with no real scientific evidence- and usually at a fair financial and sometimes medical cost. Rather than embark on these- or looking to use such an extreme diet as this long term- instead think about a few positive, healthy changes you can make and to which you can stick.

These changes may include: exercising, keeping track of calorie intake, intermittent fasting, bringing your carbohydrate intake down, replacing some of your white carbs with healthy green vegetables.

My conclusion

If you’re reading this then there is a very low chance that you should be doing this kind of diet. The proportion of people who need to lose 30 pounds in 30 days is minimal. Rather, you should look at more achievable, healthy nutrition and exercise programs to follow- or perhaps you should just consider ditching some of the junk food in favour of some of the things I’ve listed above.

If this kind of diet is pertinent to you- if you can’t afford not to lose 30 pounds in 30 days- then please use the information I’ve listed here. You absolutely can achieve the results you need- there is nothing in the world to stop you from becoming who you need to be.

Just remember to consult with your doctor before making any radical changes to your lifestyle.

You should NOT be searching for answers to the question ‘how to lose 30 pounds fast in less than a month’. There are several extreme diets combined with high-intensity exercises that can make you lose 1 pound per day on average. But it is, certainly, unhealthy and you often end up losing more muscles than the body fats.

It is more practical and healthy to lose 7-10 pounds a month instead of trying to lose 30 pounds within a short period of 30 days. We gain weight gradually; similarly, the weight loss must also be gradual. Eat low-calorie diets with lots of protein and nutrients and exercise daily to maintain or lose weight in a healthy way.